Engaging in a little “OFP”

1 Jul

I almost got run over by Cadel Evans yesterday – and it was AWESOME!

Our original Ride Guide had slated us to cycle from Dinant (by far the most charming of the towns we’ve seen) to Liege and then catch/watch the Tour de France Prologue before bussing to Brussels. But plans changed and we were instead bussed directly from Dinant to Brussels and then told: “You’re on your own.”

When it comes to group travel (even totally amazing and awesome group travel, such as this), “You’re on your own” is pretty much the best phrase in the world as far as I’m concerned: Time to grab a Battle Buddy and engage in a little OFP (refer to the Placeholder Pseudo Posting for the definition)!

Through a series of truly Truman Show-like chance encounters, missed connections, half-assed “planning,” serendipitous situational awareness moments, and pure dumb luck, I ended up with “Big Mike” as my Battle Buddy and we somehow got ourselves from Brussels to Liege via train and then haphazardly ambled right into the heart of Tour de France mania: The Team Bus zone.

It is a damn shame that I continue to be bedeviled by photo uploading issues here ‘cuz I’ve got a drool-inducing collection of “bike porn” photos, secured after Big Mike and I literally hopped the fence to get into the VIP zone. We sauntered around like we owned the place and no one questioned us when we got right up next to: Frank Schleck, Wiggo, George Hincapie (who stripped out of his skin suit right in front of me <swoon!>), Levi Leipheimer, Chris Froome, and the aforementioned Mr. Evans as they were warming up on their trainers.

Seeing Cadel on his trainer made us realize that we ought to hop-to and try to get ourselves out of the Team Bus zone and over to the starting block so we could actually see a bit of the time trialing before the event was over. But, once again, my personal unknown/unseen “Truman Show” producers intervened. Instead of actually getting to the start block, we got trapped by a jostling crowd that ultimately straightened itself out into spontaneous human border fence that served as a funnel for the riders as they came off the course and back into the Team Bus Zone.

Big Mike secured solid positioning for us within this human barrier and I literally parked my ass on the pavement and started shooting riders as they came through, adding Voekler, Nibali, and Scarponi to my growing photo portfolio. In between shots I struggled to shove fistfuls of salami, cheese, bread, and gummy worms into my chew hole. My hands started to get a little sticky, which made shooting a bit more difficult. As I bent over to wipe down my camera controls, Big Mike started yelling at me and the crowd started swarming and shouting too. It was chaos. I had no idea what was going on….

So, I’m sitting in the street with a sticky camera and half a baguette in my paw as the crowd started morphing and moving and I’m trying to get up and figure out WTH was going on when — WHAMMO — Cadel Evans came slicing through the throng and was less than 4″ away from hitting me as I attempted to get up off the ground.  We almost took each other OUT!  It was AWESOME!

And a bummer b/c I obviously missed the shot of a lifetime with that little situation. 😦

After that phenomenal experience to close out the race, Big Mike and I retired to the nearest beer hall to celebrate the fact that we just spent 1:15 in close company with the reigning gods of the cycling universe (and ogling their beautiful, stunning machines).

Momentarily, in typical European fashion, two strangers  joined our table. One of them had TdF media credentials. This was my cue to offer them treats from our food stash (cherries, gummies, almonds, cheese) and Mike bought them a round of beers. In some sort of cobbled together version of English-French-German-Russian, I think we agreed to meet again tomorrow, when R2R will be riding a portion of the official Stage 2 route. The reporter also took our cards/emails and promised to send us all of the pics he takes of the BMC team this year (he already sent a really gnarly picture of George’s massively vascular legs).

Now, all but one of the Team Busses were gone and since Mike and I were unsure of the return train schedule options, so we bid adieu to our new friends. It seemed weird to me that the RSNT bus should remain so long after all the others, all by its lonesome … until I put 2-and-2 together and realized that the day’s winner, Fabian Cancellara, was from RSNT. We hustled over there to check things out and — I shit you not — <2 seconds after we arrived on scene, Fabian, wearing the yellow jersey, came out of the Bus to get into the team car!

Photo secured & the day was declared a resounding fucking amazing awesome total success (notwithstanding the fact that my phlegm turned green at some point and I totally lost my voice as well — and it’s still not been found).

Today was devoted to touring Brussels (another “OFP” operation) and attempting to kick this friggin’ cold/flu from hell. The touring was highly successful, the healing = not-so-much.  Which is why we are once again “enjoying” a very truncated report of what’s gone on over the past several days. I’ll draft a comprehensive catch-up report at some point.  For now, though, it’s time for a little broth and tea and voiceless cheering for Italia!

3 Responses to “Engaging in a little “OFP””

  1. Mom July 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    WOW, Cristin! It sounds like you’re in heaven. It must be a lot more exciting seeing the Tour in person…and not on my old pink-tinged tv. I just got back from a great time in Pismo and I’m currently watching the Tour, too…in living color this year. Please take care of yourself .Love,Mom

  2. katerinadiaviano July 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Boo Hoo Italia lost big time. I haven’t found my voice either, but missed you on this most glorious Central Coast weekend wedding. I am exhausted, having prepared paella for 200 with my nephew Mike Gard. We done good–at least every says we did. Maybe we should have done lasagne and the Italians would have won. Hope you get back to health soon.
    your aunt Kathy

  3. Anonymous July 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    the wedding pics on FB are gorgeous & it’s clear that everyone had a blast! So happy for you all 🙂

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